Parents- did you (or for future parents, do you plan to) teach your kids to punch a bully?

My dad taught me that it was ok to punch another kid (I was a boy in the 80s) if they were being a jerk. He even taught my brother, who was a big, slow-running kid, to wait until they were changing in the locker room so they couldn’t run away. This was when we were 8-13 or so- after that, my dad told us it was too dangerous to fight.

I think this was beneficial for both of us- we both learned to stand up for ourselves- and we only got in fights a handful of times as kids. I got in trouble once, but my dad came and backed me up, and it was over.

But times may be different now, and my wife and I are thinking about kids soon. What are your experiences, as parents and kids?

Fighting should be the last resort, but it is an effective one with bullies. I would teach my children to use the other options first, but should those fail to defend themselves with force.

Define jerk.

This one’s pretty subjective. I guess someone who is trying to hurt your feelings, take something from you, or hurt you physically. That covers the kids that make fun of the fat kid (for example), or demand lunch money, or do wedgies/swirlies/etc.

My dad taught me that one warning is enough (e.g. “if you call me fatty one more time I’m gonna hurt you”). For cases like this, he taught us NOT to go tell the teacher.

What other options? Not that I disagree- though I’m not sure about every possible option (like the “tell the teacher” one). Telling your parents, and having them call the other kids parents might be a good option- though I never did that myself.

And yes, like my brother, I was a fat kid.

Yes, my dad taught me that. Avoid it at all costs, but if avoidance isn’t working and you’ve tried all of the other options (ignoring them, telling a teacher or other adult in authority, etc), a solid roundhouse to the nose is an effective means of getting your point across.

I never did it though, despite years of being taunted and teased. I’m too much of a pacifist. I probably should have though, because I still have fantasies of slugging my grade school bullies, lo these 35 years later.

I was severely bullied myself through the middle school years, and kids have a lot more serious recourse no then we did back then. I would suggest that they stick up for themselves verbally and tell the teacher or other administration person first. If that doesn’t rectify the issue then I would have a chat with the teacher, admin and hopefully the other kid’s parents. If it persists, then by all means knock his block off and AcidDad will back back you up to the hilt and take you out for ice cream later. Sometimes fighting is the only option, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach our children to try to handle problems in a mature manner first. Everyone will have to take some ribbing in life, and you have to develop a certain amount of tolerance. Likewise, as adults, fighting isn’t really a good way to solve your problems. Demonstrating to your children that there are other methods to try first is helping them to form a healthy way of dealing with issues.

I taught my son to defend himself. I also taught my son to defend his sister, and those who needed defending.

It was my experience that telling the teacher might correct it in the short-run, but in the long-run it made it worse (a reputation as a tattle-tale was a pretty bad reputation in my experience)- maybe this is different now.

Looking back, elementary and especially Junior High schools were jungles full of beasts (I think I had a good childhood- but I don’t have many good memories of being in school)- with predators and prey- and the only way to dissuade the predators was to make them physically afraid to attack.

Depends on the policy of the school. The one my toddler son goes to now seem to ahve a pretty good and strictly enforced anti-bullying program.

I’ll tell her to fight back if she’s attacked… and probably enroll her in the local tae kwon do dojo at some point.

What you say is true, but you’ve got to remember that up until very recently, bullying was never taken very seriously; it was just considered part of growing up. Adults are more sensitive about the issue today. As you note, physical retaliation works. It worked for me, and I would encourage my child to use such measures; but only after other options have failed. You don’t go nuclear before you try diplomacy.

I taught our kids to ignore them. There will be jerks throughout your life and you need to learn how to deal with them. If it turned violent or reached some critical stage, let us know and we’ll take care of it. This is today when people actually seem to care about such things. If it was when I was a kid, I probably would have suggested violence.

I was taught to fight back if they throw the first punch, but to never hit first. Try to resolve it in other ways. I’ll probably teach my own kids the same.

I still got in lots of fights though. People just wanted to hit me, I guess.

P.S. I think the sex of the respondent might show a difference in respondents, so I’ll go ahead and say I’m female.

Bullying is saying or doing things designed to hurt another, either emotionally or physically.

Teach the kids to defuse the emotional stuff by giving them a strong sense of self-worth and the confidence to look the bully in the eye and say something like “So?” when the namecalling starts. And teach them that when the bullying turns violent and the bad guy lays hands on them, they need to end the encounter quickly and violently.

Then be prepared to sue the school board and the principal when they try to suspend your kid for defending him/her self.

I taught my kids to deal with bullies. Physical responses to physical bullying was part of it. I’m proud of them. They not only stood up for themselves, they defended others as well.


My in-laws were really into the “turn the other cheek” philosophy. And they tried their best to reinforce this idea in their kids (my wife and her brother - now 43 and 45).

According to my wife, her brother was bullied and did as he was told by his parents. Now her folks say they should have taught him it’s okay to fight back in certain situations.

I’m teaching my son it’s okay to fight back (he’s 6). I’ve been teaching him the proper way to throw a punch and to go square for the nose. This is, of course, tempered with the idea to never be the aggressor and to find an adult first… but sometimes throwing a punch may be the last best option.

The year I spent in public school I ignored them defacing my locker, I ignored them writing shit about me on bathroom and locker room walls, and I even ignored the attempt to push me down the stairs. When I was brought into the principals office to be accused of biting one nemisis, I looked at her arm, grabbed it, bit it next to the [nonbracewearing] bitemark, demonstrating that it was not me that originally bit her arm. See, with a full mouth of braces, you leave very distinctive bite marks. The original bitemarks had no brace marks. Oddly enough, I didn’t really get into trouble for biting her in the office. :stuck_out_tongue: She got in trouble for lying to the teachers and principal.

In grade school my son defended a special-ed boy who had recently been mainstreamed. My son liked the boy and helped him adjust to classes. When a bully began tormenting the kid, my son eventually knocked the bully out.

It was an automatic 3 day suspension. I took three days off of work and took my son to the zoo one day, a ballgame the second, and the movies the third day. And I told him not to look at it as if he were being rewarded for his atrocious behavior.